What's the used Vauxhall Viva hatchback like?
Although Vauxhall’s fortunes have fluctuated over the years, the brand still has a place in people’s affections in the UK. For many years, the firm’s most popular cars have earned regular places in the best-seller list, especially the practical Astra hatchback and Insignia executive mile-muncher, and many are those who have learned to drive in a humble Corsa.
With the launch of the Viva in 2015, Vauxhall entered the city car class, taking the fight directly to such strong tiny-tot competitors as the Hyundai i10, Kia Picanto and Suzuki Celerio. Its name revived memories of the firm’s popular small saloon of the 1960s, and the car came with cheeky styling and room for five. It initially sold well, but went off sale in 2019, soon after the firm's purchase by the French PSA Group.
In addition, there’s a Rocks model that brings a light off-road-style makeover and a ride height that's 18mm higher for a more 'SUV' look.
On the road, the Viva’s engine is very smooth and delivers its power progressively, so it's perfectly acceptable around town. Get onto faster roads, though, and you’ll need to change down a couple of gears and rev it hard if you want even a moderate burst of acceleration. In terms of top speed and acceleration, its figures, while unimpressive on paper, actually match those of most of its main rivals. The car comes with a five-speed manual gearbox that's nice to use, with a pleasingly smooth action. However, unlike many of its rivals, there's no automatic option, so you'll need to look elsewhere if that's a deal breaker.
The Viva rides rough roads pretty well, too, with a soft and supple touch over town irregularities. It’s not the most spirited of cars to drive overall, unsurprisingly, but it handles tidily and grips well, despite a lot of body lean in bends taken quickly. Its steering is a bit vague, too, so this won’t inspire keener drivers, but it’s at least light and easy to use around town.
Despite being short and quite tall, the Viva is fairly refined on motorways, with not much in the way of wind noise to disturb things and the engine note is fairly subdued. The only blot is a fair dollop of road noise, but this is much the same for its rivals.